If you’re like me, you’ve become fed up with the ignorance about Iran. The regime’s terrorism sponsorship and nuclear weapons aspirations are talked about as if they are the inevitable response of a weak power that feels threatened by a mighty U.S. and Israel. I had begun to think that if Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust, calls for the destruction of Israel, and talk of a world without the U.S. wouldn’t wake these people up, nothing would. Thankfully, the Clarion Fund has released a film titled Iranium, which is the only educational tool giving me hope.
The overriding message of the powerful film is: “It’s the regime, stupid!” That has to be the focal point of the debate. It isn’t even about nuclear weapons; it’s about the intentions of the regime armed with the nuclear weapons. The narrator crystallizes the film’s message immediately, saying that nukes are “the final component of an extreme doctrine” pursued since 1979. That doctrine is clearly stated in Iran’s constitution, which says the country is committed to the “establishment of a universal and holy government and the downfall of all others.” The regime is theologically and, because of its constitution, legally required to wage jihad.
The anti-American rhetoric is not rooted in policy disagreements and is not a political talking point for domestic and regional consumption. Iranium shows clip after clip of Iran’s leaders explaining that the very existence of the U.S. and the West is a threat to them and Islam as a whole. Our “corruption,” which means our status as a secular democracy, is infesting the minds of Muslims and causing the fall away from Allah that causes the ills of the Muslim world. Hence, we are the “Great Satan.” If your enemy views you as the incarnation of Satan, no policy adjustment will convince him that you do not threaten him.
One of the big problems in educating the public is the common belief that the Iranian leaders can be deterred and that even if they can’t be, defensive measures can prevent an attack (or at least limit its damage) and then we can slam their heads into the ground right after. This relaxed attitude exists because few Americans have even heard of the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and the “Hidden Imam,” also called the “Mahdi.”
This is where the intensity of the film can be likened to an action movie, except there isn’t an ending that allows for an emotional release. Viewers are shown how, time and time again, Ahmadinejad begins his speeches by stating his purpose: To hasten the return of the Mahdi, a messianic figure that comes during the calamitous “end times” period to intervene on the side of Islam in a final grand war. If you believe God is going to fight on your behalf, it really doesn’t matter what sort of army the other side has.
Many viewers will rebut that it doesn’t matter what the Iranian regime believes because the Mahdi isn’t going to come and so they remain powerless to really threaten the U.S. in a terrible way. That’s where the facts about the EMP come in. By launching a nuclear weapon into the atmosphere from an off-shore vessel and detonating it in the atmosphere, the Iranians could essentially decapitate the U.S. by frying all the electronic components in most or all of the entire country. The U.S. loses its standing as a superpower in a matter of hours and may not even know who the attacker was. And this is exactly what the Iranians have rehearsed. This is undoubtedly the most sobering moment in the film. Suddenly, all the comfort from saying America is “the most powerful nation on earth” evaporates.
Another important message underscores the disastrous EMP scenario: Don’t think Iran doesn’t want to attack the U.S., because it already has. Our failure to appreciate the value in proxy war makes most people miss this fact. Iranium reviews the various attacks Iran has been involved in, and boldly reminds us of the uncomfortable fact that the 9/11 Commission found links between Iran and Hezbollah and the 9/11 hijackers.
Iranium dismantles all of the false assumptions made by those with a benign view of the Iranian regime. Bernard Lewis identifies the problem as cultural relativism. If we can’t imagine ourselves acting in a certain way, he explains, we assume others also will not act in that way. That is exactly why the film is needed and it is exactly why we all need to get it seen by as many people as possible. Only film clips, like those showing young children being sent to clear minefields during the Iran-Iraq War as “martyrs” and virtual declarations of war on the U.S., can awaken us from the slumber.
The film does highlight one glimmer of hope and that is the Iranian people. Supporting the opposition is what Americans need to demand of our leaders. If democracy is good enough for the Egyptians standing against our ally, then it should be good enough for Iranians standing against our enemy. The Green Revolution’s success is, by far, the best outcome and supporting it is our best policy option.
With the campaigns for the 2012 election cycle starting, the American people are in a perfect position to force candidates to define their strategies towards Iran. Those with the most comprehensive plan to take on the Iranian regime deserve to be rewarded. A groundswell of support from the American people is needed to force the candidates for office to detail how they’ll kick the pillars that hold the Iranian regime in place. And Iranium is the best way to make it happen.